When I was 21 years old, a friend of mine from a former internship was visiting the city that my University was in. We got drinks at the bar of the Willard, and we were the only women there. Her boyfriend stopped by to say hi for a few minutes, became very angry that she was speaking to other men, and eventually stormed off.
A man of about 40 said hello from across the bar and offered to buy us drinks. We accepted. I suppose you could say this was our first error.
A few drinks later, and the entire night is a blur. I have vague memories of being in my bed, of having sex with this person. A very fleeting memory of the two of us being in a CVS. For him to buy condoms, I would presume.
As I started to sober up in the morning, I remember him mentioning something about how he had to get home to wake up his kids for school. He was married. I’m still not sure how he planned to explain any of this to his wife.
I went to sleep immediately after he left, because being unconscious is one of the easiest ways to deal with emotional trauma.
This man made a few attempts to contact me after this incident, all of which I ignored. They were all through LinkedIn.
And while it pains me beyond words to have to admit to showing any sign of weakness, it scared me. Do you know that feeling where everything inside of you sort of… sinks? Where you’re acutely aware of your heartbeat, and you wish that you weren’t? That’s how each of his messages made me feel.
I was dating someone at the time, who was studying abroad in Paris. We weren’t wildly compatible, and while we got along in certain senses, it was destined to end when it did. Having few people to talk to, I broke down and told him what had happened two days after, expecting sympathy, or reassurance that the messages were nothing to be concerned about.
His response? He called me a slut.
And the thing is, to this day, I still blame myself. I shouldn’t have accepted the drink. And I should have been tougher.
But I wasn’t. I still had a lot to learn at 21.